Christmas has come early this year for 700 families of fallen military service men and women, thanks to the Snowball Express event hosted by The Gary Sinise Foundation.
In the early 1990s, actor Gary Sinise played a film role that would earn him nominations for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award. In Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks as the title character, Sinise plays Lieutenant Dan Taylor, Gump’s platoon leader during the Vietnam War in 1967.
But years after the film was released, Sinise’s Lieutenant Dan persona seemed to have taken on a life of its own as, by his own admission, the character “formed an enduring connection with service members throughout the military community and as he worked on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans organization.”
Sinise had been an advocate for military service people for years before his role in Forrest Gump, but after embracing the role of Lieutenant Dan, his dedication to that advocacy strengthened, and in 2011, Sinise started the Gary Sinise Foundation, a non-profit organization that exists to honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.”
The Foundation creates unique programs specifically designed to educate, inspire, entertain, and strengthen communities.
From December 2 through December 6, the Gary Sinise Foundation hosted 700 families–more than 1,800 children and spouses or guardians of fallen United States military heroes during the foundation’s Snowball Express “Disney in December” Event.
The event included a magical five-day trip to the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, complete with round-trip airfare courtesy of American Airlines, a sponsor of the event. Upon their arrival at the airport, families were warmly welcomed by American Airlines volunteer personnel through brightly decorated terminals and onto decorated airplanes.
Once the group arrived at Orlando International Airport, they were then greeted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse before heading to Disney World.
“The Gary Sinise Foundation is so honored to uplift these families with our annual holiday trip by helping them during what is often the most difficult time of year,” the foundation tweeted.
Enjoy highlights from days 1 & 2 of #SnowballExpress2022 as families of fallen military heroes arrived at Walt Disney World! @GarySiniseFound is so honored to uplift these families with our annual holiday trip by helping them during what is often the most difficult time of year. pic.twitter.com/1KJvX1WYlu
— GarySiniseFoundation (@GarySiniseFound) December 6, 2022
The unique programs and events sponsored by The Gary Sinise Foundation wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of donors and volunteers. If you are interested in being a part of the effort at the foundation, visit their website by clicking here.